MARCO ISLAND — Daybreak Monday revealed what everyone had hoped for: Marco Island largely still stood.
Save for the palm fronds and occasional trunk that littered the roadway, Hurricane Irma left most of the island intact, despite making landfall here Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm.
Its track meandered from east to west, its wander straddling Miami to Tampa, before settling on the wealthy resort town in southern Collier County
Had Martin Pilote known his home would take the storm on its nose, maybe he wouldn't have stayed. But he'd weathered Wilma in 2005 in Naples, so, he asked, "Why go?"
"I could sleep in my bed," the 56-year-old Quebec City native said. Plus, after the storm, "you can take care of business right away," he added.
That's exactly what he was doing early Monday. He had already assessed the damage to his house: three broken windows and a garage door that had almost collapsed, but didn't. Good thing. Inside the garage were five motorcycles: a Harley-Davidson up on a lift that he was restoring, an old Honda Goldwing, two vintage bikes and a Kawasaki Ninja.
The bikes were fine, and so was his boat, parked in its slip behind the house. Pilote had a generator running and invited a friend over to charge up.
He mocked Irma, now disintegrating in North Florida, though still managing to cause flooding in Jacksonville: "Wilma was tougher than that."
The early morning on the island was dark and quiet, with just hundreds if not thousands of damaged trees as company. Most residents evacuated before the hurricane came ashore.
Some street flooding remained, hours after the storm surge and just before high tide, at about 3:30 a.m. On the southern end of the island, San Marco Road was flooded. Farther north, Collier Boulevard was littered with tree limbs and downed wires.
On Bald Eagle Drive, a white Honda CR-V looks abandoned, sitting in the middle of the road, wet vegetation plastered on its window.
There are few signs of widespread destruction. The roof was torn off a building that houses a Montessori school and the local newspaper. Aluminum gutters lie tangled along the curbs.
Expensive seaside homes remain standing, many roofs apparently still intact.
Contact Josh Solomon at [email protected] Follow @Josh_Solomon15